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Daughter Of Asbestos Factory Worker Appeals For Ex Colleagues To Help Investigation

Foster Dad From Manchester Died From Lung Cancer 40 Years After Exposure To Deadly Dust


By Suzanne Rutter

The daughter of a man who helped care for more than 300 foster children from the Greater Manchester region is appealing for her dad’s former work colleagues to get in touch as they may hold vital information about his exposure to deadly asbestos dust.

Frank Pearson, of Greytown Close in Salford, had battled debilitating asbestos-related lung cancer for just over a year when he died aged 79 on Christmas Eve in 2012.

He believed the condition was caused by exposure to asbestos during his work at Broughton Sack and Bag Company Ltd in Rutland Street, Swinton, where he worked between 1961 and 1968. The firm was initially owned by Ernest Hatton followed by his son Ernie Hatton.

Industrial disease experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office are representing Frank’s biological daughter Karen Pearson in her battle for answers and together they are urging Frank’s former colleagues to provide crucial information for her case.  They want to trace anyone with information about the firm’s employers liability insurers in the 1960s and the working conditions Frank endured.

Frank worked as a driver and machine operator for the firm which recycled hessian sacks used by the nearby notorious Turners asbestos factory in Trafford Park.

He was responsible for collecting the asbestos-covered sacks from Turner’s every week and also for working machinery at Broughton’s which cleaned the asbestos dust and fibres from the sacks before they were passed to sewing machinists to alter and recycle for other firms to use.

Geraldine Coombs, an expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Asbestos-related lung cancer is an aggressive and incurable illness which cases distress for victims and their families. We often hear about people like Frank who have worked directly with asbestos on a regular basis but sadly many employers did not do enough to manage the risks associated with the deadly dust despite knowing how dangerous it is.

“The Broughton Sack and Bag Company is no longer trading so we need to know who the firm’s employers liability insurers were in the 1960s so that we can help Frank’s daughter get justice. Frank suffered a terrible illness and if his employers had taken the right steps to protect him from asbestos then his death would have been avoided.”

Frank, who was born in Swinton, was married to his wife Doreen for 50 years and together they had two children, Kevin and Karen. The couple were well-known foster parents and helped care for more than 300 children in need over a 30 year period.

In May 2011 he felt breathless, lost a lot of weight and suffered a persistent cough. He underwent tests and scans at Hope Hospital in September 2011 which confirmed he was suffering from lung cancer. 
In the final months of his life he struggled to sleep properly, walk short distances and was unable to enjoy his hobbies, such as going to bingo.

Before his death he told his daughter Karen about the working conditions he endured at the Broughton Sack and Bag Company, which was dissolved in 1980.

Karen said: “My dad often spoke about how dirty and dusty his job at the factory was and he used to come home covered in the powdery white substance. The sacks he collected from Turners had been used to store asbestos in so he couldn’t help come into contact with the deadly dust as he loaded them into his van by hand before taking them to Broughton’s to be recycled.

“When he wasn’t driving he used a machine like a huge vacuum cleaner designed to suck the dust off the sacks so they could be reused by other firms.

“He said he spent days on end working on the machine, loading sacks one by one so they could be cleaned. He said he was only ever given a simple cotton mask to wear, which got soggy and dirty quickly and wasn’t good enough to protect him from the dusty environment.

“To see his health deteriorate so badly towards the end simply because he went to work every day in the 1960s was absolutely devastating for all the family. He and my mum worked so hard to care for not just Kevin and I but the hundreds of foster kids they looked after too.

“I’m determined to honour my dad’s memory now and get him the justice he deserves and I hope many of his ex colleagues from Broughton’s will come forward with information about the working conditions he endured and the firm’s insurance company.”

Anyone with information should contact Geraldine Coombs at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office on 0161 838 3059 or email geraldine.coombs@irwinmitchell.com.

For more information about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to Lung Cancer Claims.